Belfast Telegraph

Davis out to repay Northern Ireland fans in Luxembourg

By Steven Beacom

Skipper Steven Davis is hoping the Northern Ireland supporters will make the Stade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg city a home from home tonight.

Around 1200 members of the Green and White Army have travelled over coming through Germany, Belgium and France to get here and they are all in a mood for a party.

Due to the difficulties and greater expense of reaching Azerbaijan and Israel next month, this trip will be the last of the World Cup qualifying campaign for many of the fans and given the takings at local bars and restaurants they are making it count.

Some have also enjoyed a big fun park with a continental market as part of a Schueberfouer (annual fair).

There are smiles on Northern Ireland faces in keeping with the electric atmosphere at Windsor Park for the last two matches against Russia and Portugal, bringing back memories of the mid 2000s when the biggest teams in Europe were blown away by the noise in a small corner of south Belfast.

The supporters intend singing all night long in Luxembourg too and are expected to outnumber the home fans in the stadium this evening. Davis can't wait to hear the Windsor roar transported to a tiny country in western Europe.

"The supporters in our last two home games have been fantastic and been right behind us again which has been great to see and hear," said the Southampton star.

"Sometimes I don't think they realise the impact they can have and how they can lift the players.

"It's great that so many of them have made the journey to Luxembourg.

"Our aim will be to make their trip worthwhile and give them a victory to celebrate."

That would help dull the pain of 12 months ago when Luxembourg came to Windsor and left in buoyant mood having come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw.

"The feeling when we came off the pitch that night was one of real disappointment," admitted the 28-year-old.

"We had put ourselves in a good position with Dean Shiels' goal and had opportunities to extend that lead and then late on they got a deflected goal to equalise. We have to learn from that for this match.

"I've spoken before about how performances have been quite good over the course of the campaign but at the end of the day we are here to provide results and we want to finish our last three games well and keep growing as a team."

Davis has been encouraged by the emergence of young players during the Group F matches but adds that there has been frustration too.

"A lot of young players have gained valuable experience in this campaign. It is great to see them coming through and making an impact. Hopefully that will stand us in good stead going forward, but there has been frustration too especially in the games when we have been billed as favourites," said the captain.

"I've found out over the course of my international career that there are no easy games and any good result that I've ever had with Northern Ireland has been down to energy. We need to show that and desire against Luxembourg to get the result we and the fans want."

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